This past Saturday night IBF/WBO heavyweight title holder Wladimir Klitschko 56-3 (49) won a 12-round unanimous decision over WBA title holder David Haye 25-2 (23). The fight, as it was stated here on March 14th, was a complete dud. In the March article I said if the fight goes the distance and lacks action it'll be bantered about and repeated how Klitschko vs. Haye "was more the case of one fighter who can't fight, that being Haye, and the other one who won't fight, Klitschko."
Well, after watching Wladimir and David halfheartedly attempt to provide for boxing fans who are starving for an action-packed heavyweight title bout, I'd say that perception probably rings true now. Haye's only shot to beat Klitschko was for him to attack and let his hands go. David had to win by punching and fighting, whereas Klitschko could win by either boxing or punching.
It's so obvious, make that painfully obvious, that Wladimir Klitschko enters the ring with one paramount thought, and that's not to get hit or nailed with his opponent's finishing right/left crosses or hooks. And if the opponent has a reputation of being any kind of a big puncher, Wladimir really fights in alert mode.
It was clear to see that David Haye had no intention whatsoever of fighting Wladimir Klitschko. His fight plan, something to which he alluded to after the fight, was to try and feint Klitschko into making a mistake and catch him in between punches. The only problem with that was Wladimir Klitschko doesn't fall for that style or strategy because he's only looking to punch himself when he deems that it's safe. Therefore Haye was never going get the shot on Klitschko that he wanted handed to him. No, what he needed to do was to go out and create the opening and nudge Klitschko out of his comfort zone. He obviously didn't do enough of this to be competitive during the fight.
David Haye probably didn't assert himself enough in at least nine of the 12 rounds the fight went. What he did do with his movement and feints was enough to spook Klitschko away from really pressing the action against him. And because of that I come away from Klitschko-Haye thinking more about what Klitschko should've tried and done during the bout, than what Haye didn't try or do. Sure, as Wladimir said after the fight, it's hard to knock out an opponent who's trying to avoid engaging with you. However, Klitschko didn't attempt to do anything creative or imaginative to bring Haye out of his comfort zone. In fact Wladimir must've forgot about throwing hooks and uppercuts with either hand. Because if he didn't, he sure chose not to throw them. And that's why his trainer Emanuel Steward excoriated him in between rounds a few times as the fight progressed. Then again it makes sense on Klitschko's part because straight lefts and occasional rights are much safer to throw than hooks and uppercuts. See, you have to get close to your opponent to cut loose with tight hooks and uppercuts, which of course put you in position for your opponent to give you a receipt, and Wlad doesn't really relish getting receipts.
In the next few days and weeks Haye will be taken apart by the boxing media, as he probably should be. But let's be honest, Klitschko was in there with a fighter in David Haye who was looking to land a lottery punch and nothing else. This was Wladimir Klitschko's signature fight and he needed to seal it with an exclamation point. Not only didn't he do that, but it's hard to see where he was even trying to fight with a sense of urgency. Sure, a win is a win and he claimed another title, but he's at the point now where he has to make a statement in a big fight if he wants to be remembered after he's retired from professional boxing.
Yes, Klitschko dominated Haye and you could even say that he should get credit for making Haye fight so cautiously. But at the same time Wladimir had a guy in front of him who he should've separated himself from and he didn't. It's clear to all after watching Haye that he's a talented fighter, but he's nowhere close to special or outstanding. Yet Klitschko just kept plodding and inching forward more with the intent of keeping Haye from becoming brave and attempting to raise a little hell, than he was trying to be the boss and seize the fight in a memorable fashion.
Perhaps Wladimir Klitschko is so strong and powerful that he would've broken the will of fighters such as Larry Holmes and Lennox Lewis. No, I doubt that's true, but you get the point. However, until he erases the picture that most fans have in their mind that he'd be in trouble versus a legitimate tough guy with character and marginal talent, he'll never get the benefit of the doubt from the fans and media. And it's doubtful that boxing fans are looking forward to seeing either Wladimir Klitschko or David Haye fight again anytime soon.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com